This months 'No Croutons Required' is being hosted by Lisa of the Lisa’s Kitchen and she challenged us to create a soup or salad with root vegetables. I really like the theme of this challenge, as there are so many seasonal root vegetables around that I feel spoiled for choice, especially with my home grown vegetables. I could have made carrot soup, turnip soup, parsnip soup, even Jerusalem artichoke and ginger soup which is what I was actually going to make as I had dug up some Jerusalem artichokes from the plot this weekend, but I changed my mind as I had half a swede (grown in Perth, Scotland) left over from for the white chilli bean I had made earlier in the week.
Instead I decided to make a belly warming neep soup with some South Asian influences and why not. Here in Scotland, we have vegetarian haggis samosa and haggis pakoras here, so why not garam masala neep soup aka Swede soup with warm spices. One thing cooks should know about garam masala is you can add it the pot whilst the vegetables are cooking, or use it after as a garnish, or both – which is what I have done with this recipe.
Swede is a very plain looking vegetable but upon cooking it becomes almost golden. It is a close relative of the turnip and for this reason their names are sometimes used interchangeably. In America, Swedes are called rutabagas and in Scotland neeps. When I first moved to Scotland I made the mistake of assuming that neeps was a derivation of the word turnip as in turneep, but I was later informed by a fellow Scot that neeps were actually swede but were commonly known as Swedish turnip.
Some of you may be thinking, why didn’t I use my own home-grown swede. I don’t often eat swede that often, so I made a decision not to grow it. However, if someone had given me a dozen seedlings to plant, I would have happily taken them, as that amount would have been sufficient for me.
Anyway, back to the soup, the idea for this garam masala neep soup was heavily influenced by one of my favourite soups: curried parsnip soup made by the cookery writer Jane Grigson. I did surf the web for a similar recipe made with swede, but couldn’t find one, so decided to make my own version. I was pleasantly surprised with the result and found it actually very rich, creamy and filling. I think the soup would be delicious with a side serving of swede crisps with some garam masala and a touch of salt sprinkled on top, who needs croutons?!
I am submitting this to Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen who is hosting Novembers 'No Croutons Required' challenge.
Garam Masala neep soup
Serves 4 – 6
1 small swede, about 400g peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
1 red chilli, sliced
1 tablspoon of garam masala
Salt to taste
1 ½ pints of water or vegetable stock
Extra garam masala for sprinkling
Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan, add the onion and garlic if using and cook for a few minutes until translucent but not coloured. Add the swede, garam masala and chilli and cook for a few minutes, then add the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer until the swede is soft. Turn off. When cool, blend the soup, adjust the seasoning, reheat and serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of extra garam masala if desired.